Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Category: Grains

Is Gluten Sensitivity All in Your Head?

First, non-celiac wheat/gluten sensitivity was a sham and everyone claimed its participants were in a collective mass delusion. Then some actual studies came out, and it appeared to be a real condition. Soon after, researchers offered different theories. Maybe it was FODMAP intolerance. Maybe it was all that wheat fiber messing up the gut. Maybe it was too little fiber and other fermentable substrate, and we were actually starving our gut bugs and compromising our intestinal health. Maybe it wasn’t even the gluten. And maybe it was actually some kind of a placebo. One of the most recent findings was that gluten sensitivity might not even exist. What’s the truth?

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Dear Mark: How to Eat Blackstrap Molasses; Healthy Whole Grains Studies

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. First, I answer a very specific question about blackstrap molasses, that nutrient-dense sweetener with the distinctive taste. How can a person who hates molasses work it into their diet? Next, I address concerns surrounding a set of healthy whole grain studies that I’m sure you’ve been hearing about. Are whole grains really healthy? Will they make you live long and prosper? Is there something unique to whole grains we’re missing out on?

Let’s go:

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17 Primal Tips for Vegans and Vegetarians

We all know vegetarians and vegans. And while we have our differences, they are our friends, our family, our partners, our spouses, even our children. We all have people in our lives who avoid meat and/or animal products in general for multiple reasons—health, ethics, the environment, squeamishness, animal welfare—but we care about them. We also subscribe, with varying degrees of rigidity, to an eating philosophy based on the nutritional importance of animal foods. How do we reconcile these competing loyalties? Should we give up on them? Are they a lost cause? Should we simply wait for them to come limping toward us with sallow skin and low muscle tone? I kid, of course. We should absolutely help where and when we can.

Yet telling them to “just eat meat” doesn’t work. If anything, it’s counterproductive. Instead, we can offer productive, legitimately helpful advice from a Primal perspective. Like:

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Joining the Status Quo

The other day it occurred to me that we’re coming up on 10 years with this blog. In 2006, I started publishing (what were then) wacky, newfangled ideas about how people should go barefoot (or wear Vibrams), eat more animal fat, slash carbs and eschew grains altogether, avoid (most) vegetable oils, stand up while they work, expose themselves to cold, get off the chronic cardio wagon and climb trees or sprint down their streets like 9-year-olds. Finally, there was the proverbial (and ironic) icing on the cake of suggesting people ask what would Grok do—that now illustrious posterman for all things evolutionary. Ten years ago many of these ideas were still viewed as strange or even flat out wrong.

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Dear Mark: A New Whole Grain Study, Advice for a Teen, Broken Leg Sprints, and The 3 Mules

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got four questions and four answers. First up, there’s a new whole grain study, and some people are claiming it demonstrates that low-carb diets will lead to early mortality. Does it do anything of the sort, or is this yet another flawed observational paper? Next, a teen on top of his diet game who hopes he’s doing it right writes in with a list of questions. I answer them. Next, what can a person recovering from a broken leg do in the way of sprinting? Or should she just focus on recovery? Finally, a wild and free man is roaming California with three pack mules, flouting convention and leading a nomadic existence. Police are occasionally called and media attention is often attracted. What are my thoughts?

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Unraveling a Stress Ball, Fiber for Plant-Hating Tot, Offal with Grains, and Exercising with a Cold

For today’s Dear Mark, we’ve got a four-parter. First up is one from a woman in her mid-30s trying to recover from a three-year bout of chronic stress — and all the metabolic fallout that entails. Are there any supplements to help with her situation? Second, what do you feed a picky kid who hates vegetables, hates fruit with peels, and needs more prebiotic fiber? I give a quick list of ideas for getting things moving again. Third, are traditional foods like haggis and liver pâté worth eating if they contain non-Primal ingredients you’d usually avoid? Are the nutrients found in offal really that important? And finally, I help a reader figure out whether she should be exercising while sick.

Let’s go:

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The “Dangers” of Going Gluten-Free

In just about every article discussing the growing popularity of gluten-free diets, an expert or two appears three quarters of the way down warning about the “dangers” of attempting a gluten-free diet without medical supervision. The first reaction – from people like you and me who have experienced real benefits giving up gluten-containing foods – is a strong eye roll. “This again?” you think. Next they’re going to say that refined sugar is an important food group and I need a high-carb diet for “brain function” or something similarly inane.

But hey, these are medical experts with acronyms after their names. Maybe we should listen to what they’re saying and investigate their justifications for saying it. What dangers or risks are they actually referring to? Are they real dangers that we should heed, or are we in the clear?

There appear to be three primary arguments against widespread adoption of gluten-free diets. Let’s examine the evidence for and against each.

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Dear Mark: Grains and Joints, Cardamom, and The Cause of Aging Muscle

For today’s Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. First: a question about grains and joint health from a reader who gets achy and creaky every time she veers off schedule and eats grains. Is this common? Is it supported by any real evidence? Yes and yes. Next is a short overview of cardamom, that other Indian spice that you never hear much about. Turns out it’s got some potential. And finally, I (try to) assuage the existential fears of a young guy who will eventually be an old guy freaking out about the impending and inevitable loss and dearth of his muscle mass.

Let’s go:

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Does Gluten Have Any Effect on Non-Celiacs?

The headlines are everywhere: gluten sensitivity doesn’t actually exist, and anyone who thinks they have it is a liar, delusional, dumb, or all three. The message isn’t a new one, but the stories do point to a new study from a group of researchers who previously found that removing wheat from the diet improved symptoms in people with IBS. In the new paper, the researchers tested whether isolated gluten – rather than wheat – exacerbated IBS symptoms. It did not. The IBS patients in the latest study showed no reaction to isolated gluten, and the only dietary variable that increased their symptoms was wheat. This could suggest that at least for some people (with IBS), gluten sensitivity may actually be wheat sensitivity triggered by the fermentable FODMAP fibers found in the grain.

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How to Establish a Healthy Gut in Your Primal Baby

Yes, folks: it’s another post about the gut. But today’s advice is geared toward all the Primal babies out there in preconception, in utero, and in diapers. Because for the first few years, they’re pretty helpless and ignorant in matters of the gut. They need your help to establish and maintain a healthy intestinal environment. They need your expertise and guidance and occasional intervention. And sometimes, as you’ll see, they need you to give them the freedom to do some often unpleasant-looking activities that pay dividends to longterm gut health.

Since most of the immune system resides in the gut, and the development of a kid’s gut microbiome is in many ways the development of his immune system, this turns out to be a helpful guide for parents interested in optimizing their child’s immune system.

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